Beat the Heat with This Refreshing Gazpacho
Chef Ariel Fox melds avocado, tomatillo, and green onion in her verdant version of the cold soup.
You may recognize Ariel Fox from reality TV fame, cooking for celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and winning season 18 of Hell’s Kitchen. But when she’s not a judge on Food Network or captaining the menu at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, the chef is reimagining the Latin and Caribbean food she grew up eating—and spinning those culinary musings into a forthcoming cookbook, Spice Kitchen, which debuts August 23.
“There was a big chunk in my life where I didn’t embrace this food,” Fox says. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years and battling it out in kitchens, and I was French and Italian trained, but I really just want people to not be afraid to teach our children of the next generation to really embrace the foods of your heritage.”
In Spice Kitchen, Fox does just that. Her recipes offer healthier versions of the dishes she ate growing up without skimping on the bold and heady flavors of Latin and Caribbean food. But she doesn’t just pull from childhood memories. Throughout the cookbook, Fox leads each recipe with a brief anecdote.
Her green gazpacho—in which avocado, charred green onions, and bright tomatillos meld into a smoky soup—takes Fox back to being with her husband in Tulum, Mexico.
“The first time we went to Tulum, all of the sauces had some kind of like fire-roasted element to it,” Fox recalls. “Everything was just so smoky because they were cooking everything on a wood-burning grill in Tulum… When I came back from that first trip, all I could think about was just cooking everything on the fire for a while.”
While this recipe evokes taste memories for Fox, she says it isn’t the end-all, be-all of green gazpacho recipes. Indeed, she encourages spice lovers to add more heat if they want to by experimenting with different or more chiles. “You gotta feel it, too,” she says. “Across the book in general, I just want people to use it as a jumping off point.”
For her, she loves the “smokiness against the nuttiness against the creaminess of the avocado,” in lieu of actual cream.
And, no, you don’t have to start a campfire on the beach to achieve the deep, charred flavors in this gazpacho. If you don’t have a live fire to work with or even a gas stove, Fox says not to fear: “Honestly, you could char tomatillos, you could char green onions on an electric stove.”
Avocado, Tomatillo, and Charred Green Onion Gazpacho
• 2 pounds tomatillos, peeled
• 1 jalapeño, stem removed
• 1 serrano chile, stem removed
• 4 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
• 1 bunch green onions, ends trimmed
• juice of 1 lime
• 1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
• ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
• sea salt to taste
• splash of apple cider vinegar
• pumpkin seed dip (optional)
• fresh mint leaves, torn
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Toss the tomatillos and whole chile peppers on a sheet tray with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to brown in spots and flesh is softened.
3. Over an open flame (a burner on your stove will do), char the green onions whole, turning frequently, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside. (If using an electric stove top, you can achieve a nice char via cast iron pan.)
4. In a blender, add the lime juice, avocado, remaining 3 tablespoons of avocado oil, and charred onions. Then transfer the cooked tomatillos to the blender. Pulse and blend to start breaking up the vegetables, but do not puree.
5. Make a slit in each of the roasted chiles and gently remove seeds. Add the seeded roasted chiles to the blender along with the almonds, a pinch of sea salt, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Continue to pulse until the gazpacho is smooth and uniform but still has a slight bit of texture, about 3 to 4 minutes. Chill for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.
6. Pour into chilled bowls and serve garnished with a spoonful of Mayan Hummus (pumpkin seed dip, optional) and some fresh mint.
Recipe courtesy of Spice Kitchen: Healthy Latin and Caribbean Cuisine (Kingston Imperial – August 23, 2022).